OCTOBER 29, 2019

Among the sunflowers

BY FIEL ESTRELLA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TRISTAN TAMAYO

Post-Impressionist paintings become immersive new worlds at the Van Gogh Alive exhibit.

Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh, who was active in the latter half of the 1800s and gained recognition in the 20th Century, has been a common presence in the daily lives of common folk, from reproductions of his most known works on socks and journal covers, to the critically acclaimed and painstakingly detailed film Loving Vincent, to, of course, the real things found in museums around the world. Van Gogh’s art is rich and striking, eliciting emotion in all the obvious and not-quite-expected ways.

The multi-sensory Van Gogh Alive comes to Manila after popular stops in cities like Paris and Dubai.

It’s telling, then, that the multi-sensory Van Gogh Alive is one of the most well-attended shows around the world, drawing crowds in the likes of Dubai and Paris. This year, it has finally made its way to Manila, brought to One Bonifacio High Street by the Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. and Grande Exhibitions.

It’s something fresh, different, and contemporary, showcasing over 3,000 crisp images in an immersive multimedia display, incorporating sight, sound, and moving parts to the paintings, having them literally “come alive” as they tell the story of Van Gogh’s life. Each guest is entitled to an hour and a half inside the exhibition space, allowing them to view the 45-minute loop about twice. The number of visitors allowed in at a time is limited to make the experience more pleasant.

A lifesize, three-dimensional replica of Van Gogh’s The Bedroom greets guests at the beginning of the exhibit.

The exhibit begins with a three-dimensional lifesize replica of Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, better known as Bedroom in Arles, which guests can admire and examine in close range. They can then enter the space itself, a large room with plain walls and screens on which the high-definition images will be projected as a beautiful selection of classical music plays on cinema-quality surround sound.

The exhibit showcases over 3,000 images in a journey through Van Gogh’s life.

Throughout the show, you are made to travel across the different periods of Van Gogh’s life, becoming acquainted with his time in the Netherlands, and then in Paris, Arles, Saint-Remy, and Auvers-sur-Oise. It’s a dynamic and immersive way to become more familiar with the artist, his story, and his work. And while your sense of touch may not necessarily be a part of the experience, you’ll still get to feel — meaning so many emotions run through you as you sit, or walk around, or stand in one spot, watching it all unfold over and around you.

The colors and unique depictions of flowers, portraiture, cityscapes and street scenes, and starry nights are all there, but as though you’ve never seen them before. It’s an experience that builds community and changes you, but also brings you both into and out of yourself.

The paintings are projected on walls and screens, set to a selection of classical music.

“Van Gogh Alive is not Van Gogh gaining new relevance 150 years later,  but the same genius up close and personal, navigating your soul in the language of nuanced light,” says Mara Isabel Garcia, managing director of Bonifacio Art Foundation, Inc. “From tender to cobalt blues, reticent creams to raging yellows, with the musical genius of Bach, Schubert, Vivaldi, among others.”

She adds, “No one will doubt how art transforms the most elusive of all shapes: our spirits.”

Van Gogh Alive showcases all of the imagery the artist has become known for, including distinct pops of yellow, street scenes, and starry nights.

The Van Gogh Alive exhibit runs until December 8 at 4F One Bonifacio High Street, Taguig. Tickets may be purchased at One Bonifacio High Street and the Mind Museum, as well as online on its website.